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Why are Bankruptcy Filings So Common After Divorce?

What will you do when, after what seems like forever, your divorce becomes final? Will you burn your wedding photos? Will you go on Facebook and message your former in-laws to tell them how you really feel about them, or better yet, message the one that got away? Will you reinvent yourself with a new hairstyle and a new career path? Most recently divorced people don’t have time to engage in such symbolic gestures. After divorce, as during marriage, the bill collectors wait for no one. A lot of people celebrate their divorce not with a new tattoo or a new May-December romance, but with a new bankruptcy filing. An Oakland bankruptcy lawyer can help you if you are recently divorced and despairing about meeting your debt obligations.

Distribution of Marital Debts in Divorce

Pursuant to New York’s equitable distribution laws, the divorce court must divide a couple’s marital assets and debts in a way that the court determines is fair; the goal is, when possible, to make both spouses financially independent so that neither one requires alimony or public assistance. Meanwhile, both spouses emerge from the divorce with the separate property they owned and the separate debts they owed before the marriage. This means that the court could hold you responsible for some of the credit card debt that you and your spouse racked up together. It also means that if your marriage was shorter than the repayment term on a premarital debt, you might still be making payments on a car loan or personal loan that you have been paying since you were single.

Divorce courts often issue a status quo order, forbidding the parties from selling marital assets or otherwise making major financial decisions while the divorce is pending. A status quo order effectively hits the pause button on your finances. Once your divorce becomes final, you are free to deal with your debts as you choose, and as long as you continue to pay your court-ordered child support, your finances are no longer your ex-spouse’s business.

When the court divides a couple’s property, both spouses feel the financial strain. The impression you get that the divorce court has enriched your ex-spouse at your expense is just an illusion; your ex is thinking the same thing about you. After divorce, you have one income with which to pay one-and-a-half people’s debts. If you discharge the debts that are eligible for discharge in bankruptcy, like the credit card debt from the vacation that you and your ex took years ago, even though you both knew that you could not afford it, you will have more money left to pay debts you cannot discharge, such as taxes and court-ordered child support.

Contact the Law Office of Melanie Tavare About Filing for Bankruptcy

Divorce can be a new beginning, and so can filing for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you file for bankruptcy protection if the divorce court holds you responsible for debts that you cannot pay. Contact the Law Office of Melanie Tavare in Oakland, California, or call (510)255-4646 for a free case evaluation.

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